Research to support animal agriculture include studies of livestock husbandry systems, breeding, animal disease, and productivity.
Institutions conducting agriculture-related research (and teaching) often maintain herds and/or flocks of animals in a semi-commercial farm environment. In addition, research is also carried out using commercial herds not owned by the institution. This places the ethics of animal use outside of conventional laboratory research and requires special consideration of how the Three Rs can be implemented.
Often replacement in agricultural research is not possible (e.g. when the research goal is to improve the welfare or productivity of the animal). Reduction of animal use may not be appropriate in agricultural trials where treatment of the animal is at the herd level and is non-invasive. Similarly, the implementation of refinements may conflict with the use of routine, invasive husbandry procedures typical to the industry.
Implementing Three Rs in Animal Agriculture Research
Research and teaching institutions can provide a leadership role in the exploration and implementation of new best practices in animal agriculture. Therefore, investigators should aim to implement the Three Rs as much as possible to provide a higher standard of animal welfare than would normally be achieved by applying current agricultural industry standards.
There are also opportunities to implement refinements in agricultural research, including:
This section has been adapted from the CCAC guidelines on: the care and use of farm animals in research, teaching and testing.
For more information on the agricultural research and the Three Rs, the following resources may be useful.